China should take its own path for low-carbon economic development

16:35, May 10, 2010      

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The low-carbon economy, a concept first put forth by a Brit in 2003, has become a popular topic of public concern.

Developed countries and developing countries have much difference in the focus, short and long-term targets for development of a low-carbon economy. However, it is generally the same when it comes to the core issues they need to address in developing low-carbon economy.

Carbon productivity, a prevailing international key indicator for evaluating a low-carbon economy, refers to the economic benefits per unit of carbon emitted. In other words, carbon productivity is the reciprocal value of carbon intensity. In December 2009, China officially announced its carbon intensity targets – the carbon emitted per unit of GDP in 2020 will be 40 to 45 percent lower than that of 2005, or carbon productivity in 2020 will be 67 to 82 percent higher than that in 2005.

If the world can meet the targets of cutting the amount of carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2050, advocated by developed countries, the overall carbon productivity will have to be enhanced by eight to 10 times. It is a great challenge for both the international circle and human beings.

The challenge facing developing countries including China is particularly severe, because room for carbon emissions was not yet considered a type of scare resources when developed countries accumulated social wealth and accomplished modern prosperity. However, when developing countries such as China are in the process of development, the space for carbon emissions is increasingly scarce because they have been seriously occupied by developed countries. That is to say, developing countries do not have enough carbon emissions space to develop their economies in a conventional way.

Going on a new modernization path or a low-carbon development path is the only way to tackle the tough issue. Nevertheless, such a path was without precedent in the history of developed countries. Therefore, China should explore in order to find a suitable path for itself.

The current urgent task for China is to save energy and enhance energy efficiency. Meanwhile, China should also develop renewable and new energy. It is also critical to improve the existing industrial structure by striving to develop new and high-tech industries and modern service industries.

There has to be a series of practical policies, laws and regulations, and systems to ensure China’s technological innovation and a sustainable economy with high efficiency and low emissions. The Chinese government will definitely play a leading role, but companies and the public should also make their own contributions. Only in this way can the low-carbon policies be truly implemented, and can China successfully develop its low-carbon economy.

Another challenge is how to maintain a good balance when dealing with China’s own environmental problems and the global climate crisis.

At present, developed countries have already completed their industrialization and have solved the “traditional” environmental problems, so the global problem of climate change has become their main focus and a low-carbon economy has accordingly become their main development pattern.

In contrast, China has neither completed industrialization nor solved the "traditional" environmental problems such as the emissions of sulfur dioxide, solid waste, water resources, and urban environment. What is worse, China also has to meet the challenges of climate change. Therefore, we must seek synergistic effects in saving energy and reducing emissions.

China has presented certain concepts such as "green economy," "ecological economy," and "circular economy," which are mainly aimed at solving domestic environmental problems. It is important to integrate these concepts with a low-carbon economy to cope with the global climate change.

In developing a low-carbon economy, China will be able to achieve superiority in certain fields if it can effectively combine advantages in cost with technological innovation. Developing a low-carbon economy will take a very long time. Maybe only after several generations can a low-carbon economy and low-carbon cities finally be realized.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:张洪宇)

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